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Student film draws buzz at festivals

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Students use film festivals to gain professional exposure

Two senior Point Park University cinema and digital arts students, Dean Ciocca and Todd Kappelt, created the short film "The Heart of a Bee" for their Advanced Directing class. And when they heard about the Rogue Festival in San Francisco, they decided to enter the film and ended up walking away with the second place award.

"The Heart of a Bee" is a dramatic comedy about a secret romantic relationship between two bees, made difficult due to the traditional bee lifestyle of mating only with the queen. Instead of going for a documentary feel with real bees, they opted to use a projection of a honeycomb pattern and two other students dressed up in bee costumes (Dan Wetmore and Kristen Koeper). The students wanted to do something different that would stand out from the typical serious nature of student films. Ciocca wrote and directed the film; Kappelt filmed and edited it.

The Rogue Festival is an annual festival that celebrates independent artists and performers and is described as a "fringe festival with a 21st century feel." The film was shown at the festival on July 17 and was shown with 24 other films that were less than 15 minutes in length.

But the Rogue Festival isn't the only festival this film has been shown at. It was also shown at the Midwest 3-Minute Film Festival in Michigan on October 3 and 4, where it won Best Comedy.

Due to their recent success, Ciocca and Kappelt have started making big plans for the film. They consider it a work in progress, revising it after each showing in an effort to keep improving the film. They have scheduled the film to be shown for two days at the Three Rivers Film Festival on November 19  and 20, and are working on submitting it to other festivals. They are also considering turning it into a mini web series.

Although it was a class project, Ciocca and Kappelt have been able to use "The Heart of a Bee" to gain professional experience and exposure. "It's not just school," Ciocca said, "It's building your career."

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